Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Dog Eat Dog" - A Producer's Report From The Set!

Late in the year of 2011, a little movie about dog adoption called “Dog Eat Dog” was made and directed by Zachary Quinto's good friend, Sian Heder together with the Before The Door team.

The production costs were funded by backers via the Kickstarter website and the top three people who contributed to the production costs will be credited as Producers for the movie. As a special perk, they were also allowed to be on set (in LA) for a day during the filming of “Dog Eat Dog

My Twitter friend Lindsay was one of the Producers, and it was no surprise that she had a wonderful day on set with Zach, Sian, the production team and a few furry-footed creatures.

Here's Lindsay's take on that day on the “Dog Eat Dog” set:


Recently I got to hang out for a day with Zachary Quinto. For real. How on earth did I do that?

Zach and director/ writer Sian Heder collaborated on a short film, “Dog Eat Dog”, which was based on Zach’s first attempt to adopt a dog. The film was made with the intention to benefit animal shelters.

Zach & Sian invited fans to participate as financial backers. One level of backing offered a visit on location during the shoot as an “executive producer” – and I leapt at that! Expensive? Yes. But the chance of a lifetime.

Zachary is shaping up as one of the best actors of his generation. His rendition of Spock grabbed me, but what got me to look at the actor behind the role was seeing how exquisitely Zach embodied such very different characters like Spock, Sylar and Sasan. A talented actor indeed, and an admirable man in person too! The chance to see him at work in a film in LA was not to be missed. Besides, he is very easy to look at!

A casting hopeful
Watching a movie being shot is fascinating in itself. It is very different from watching a stage play or watching a finished movie. Scenes are shot based on the location, not the storyline. After all day on one location, I still don’t know what the whole “Dog Eat Dog>” will look like.

One scene is shot repeatedly and from several different camera angles. Zach says the same lines with the same motions over and over again, exactly the same, “selling” the same emotional impact with each take. Wow! That takes skill, discipline and focus.

Being on location for “Dog Eat Dog” let me see Zachary at work, and also meet some of his circle of friends and colleagues. Zach attracts fascinating and talented people who are noteworthy in themselves. Sian Heder was his classmate at Carnegie Mellon and had produced the award-winning film, “Mother”. Sian's husband David Newsom, an actor and noted photographer, was also on set taking behind-the-scenes photos, and both of them are great friends of Zach’s.

Sean Akers, Before the Door’s webmaster and producer, was our delightful host for the day. Sean greeted us in the morning – a 6:30am call! – and stayed with us until 9pm that night when shooting stopped for the day. He made sure we could see what was happening without being in the way. Neal Dodson, one of the BTD partners, came by and answered my questions about the status of several projects.

I got the impression that I was being given a rare glimpse into Zach’s own world, much more than if I were watching “Star Trek” or “Heroes” being shot. Plus the story is based on Zach himself. So I was seeing Zach playing Zach. This is probably as close to seeing “the real Zachary Quinto” as I will ever get.

On location, Zach's beauty is more natural than in his glamour shots, more a matter of presence and oh-yes-those-eyebrows. But aside from his attractiveness, the real Zach is still an enigma to me. Each time I have seen Zach in person I realize that he is not the Zach I have imagined nor any of the roles he portrays so well. He is simply Zachary Quinto – and I don’t know who that is.

On set: Lindsay, Zach, Sara and Acadia

One disappointment for me was that I got tongue-tied when I was on set that day. I had no problem passing along messages from others, but I wanted to talk with Zach about many things – his acting, his tweets, psychology. Yet all of these fled my brain. This still puzzles me. As those in NYC for “Angels in America” can attest, I have never been reticent around Zach before. But this time I didn’t even tell him how much I admired his acting and admire him as a human being.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have an opportunity. Zach did hang out and chat with us. He mentioned a psychological study, in which researchers showed shots of a person with a neutral expression interspersed with shots of intensely dramatic scenes. The viewers didn’t see the person’s expression as neutral. Instead they saw the face as showing reactions to the preceding dramatic scene. In fact, there was no connection at all. An interesting study, especially for a movie actor who may shoot a scene in one context only to have it edited into another. Zach commented that being neutral was half the work of an actor. I personally think this topic would be fascinating to explore.

From his anecdote, I can see that Zachary Quinto is clearly a guy who studies his craft and isn't just relying on his good looks alone. Or his biceps. ;)


Thanks to Lindsay for sharing about her day on set!

For those who had been keeping tabs on the production of Dog Eat Dog on Twitter, you might remember that there was a cute white female furry cast member on set that day.

Apparently, it was love at first bark .. er I mean, sniff...  for both Zach and puppy "Rizzo". And almost immediately, Zach tweeted to see if anyone in LA wanted to adopt her.

A couple of weeks later, "Rizzo" - now renamed as "little sister" by Zach - was still staying at Zach's place.

I am not sure what is "little sister"'s  fate at this moment, but I hope she finds a warm and fabulous home. Whether it is a long-term arrangement with Zach (Noah would then have a sister!) or with another loving adoptive owner.

In other news, “Dog Eat Dog” is currently at post-production stage and I believe it's going to be a very enjoyable and funny little film. CONFESSION: I also have uber low resistance to cute furry dogs.

Sean Akers has mentioned that there would be special production pics available for the movie's backers. So, let's patiently wait and see if that comes to pass real soon!!

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